I love hotels. No cooking, no cleaning, having your every wish taken care of. That’s what great hotels are all about.
I couldn’t even begin to put a number on the hotels I’ve stayed in, and working in the travel industry means I’ve visited countless more on work trips, but which were my favourite?
For fairness, I haven’t included any hotels I didn’t pay for myself. Anyone who knows me, knows I like to get maximum bang for my buck when travelling, so whilst these hotels aren’t necessarily “cheap” (and not all of them are actually hotels!), deals can be found to make sure you’re getting value for money.
Fig Tree Camp – Kenya
Nestled within the Maasai Mara National Park and built along the banks of the Talek River, this luxury tented camp is everything you could wish for from a Kenyan safari adventure.
Each tent is a self contained unit built around a brick building which houses your en-suite bathroom, a glorious mix of modern comfort and rustic charm. With a double and single bed, the tents sleep up to 3 guests quite comfortably and you can always spread out on to your veranda for a bit more space.
The hotel has a restaurant, 2 bars and a fire pit to sit around and swap safari stories with other excited travellers. The small pool is a great place to chill out in between game drives.
From £260 per room per night, full board based on 2 sharing via booking.com.
Anurak Community Lodge – Thailand
Another hotel located in (well, near to) a National Park, but this time Khao Sok in the Surat Thani province of central Thailand.
Surrounded by lush, tropical rain forest, each of the bungalows sits on stilts putting you up within the tree canopy. The deluxe bungalows are detached, giving a real sense of privacy and standard bungalows are interconnecting, making them ideal for families. As there’s no phone, TV or WiFi in the rooms, it’s easy to switch off and enjoy being in nature. The outdoor, en-suite shower adds to the off grid luxe.
Being close to the National Park, there’s loads of day time activists to enjoy and the hotel has a real focus and dedication to eco and sustainable tourism. There’s guided walks through the forest, canoeing, cycling and ethical elephant experiences.
Evenings are about excellent, home cooked food in the hotel’s restaurant and a few drinks in the bar, both overlooking the rain forest. Watching the sunset and hearing the nighttime jungle come alive is a truly special experience.
From £36 per room per night, B&B based on 2 sharing via booking.com.
Golden Crown Igloos – Finland
Sleeping in an igloo when it’s -23c outside, that’s on everyone’s bucket list, right?! What about a toasty warm, heated, thermal glass igloo? Glamping 100 miles north of the Arctic circle has definitely been one of my favourite travel experiences.
Located about 6 miles from the Finnish ski resort of Levi, the small complex of heated glass igloos are perched on the hillside overlooking the valley and the northern sky. The northern sky being the main attraction and reason for staying here – to see the northern lights!
Each self contained igloo has an en-suite bathroom, kitchenette, seating area and mechanical beds which can be angled in to the perfect position to watch the spectacle in the sky.
There is an on-site restaurant (with glass ceiling!) but it’s quite pricey, so my recommendation would be to stock up on food from a supermarket and rustle up a meal in your igloo before it gets dark.
The igloos are cosy, but it it’s all about the northern lights. If they make an appearance during your stay, you’ll not regret the splurge.
From £435 per igloo per night, B&B based on 2 sharing via booking.com.
Intercontinental Le Grand – Paris
The only big chain hotel in this list, this isn’t my usual style of hotel, but I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to return!
Located in the Opera district of Paris, the hotel is very grand and opulent, which isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it works so well. Because of the age of the building, there’s a lot of categories of rooms and I would recommend avoiding the cheapest rooms as they’re very small. But who comes to Paris to sit in their hotel room? The rooms have been refurbished since my visit, so there’s one excuse to go back!
The best thing about this hotel is its club lounge. Free flowing champagne and gourmet food served all day long. Breakfast, afternoon tea and evening hot buffet? Yes, please! I could have sat in the club lounge all day, it’s like a high end, refined, all inclusive.
From £335 per room per night, Room Only based on 2 sharing via booking.com.
Ikos Olivia – Greece
Speaking of high end all inclusive, this hotel has to take the top spot for my favourite places to stay.
Hogging its own slice of private beach, about 40 minutes from Thessaloniki, this hotel is in a class of its own when it comes to what an all inclusive resort can be.
Fantastically modern and elegant, all pale colours and plush fabrics, you feel instantly relaxed as soon as you arrive and the waiter takes your cocktail order. And pre-made cocktails out of a jug, these are not. Each of the 4 main bars are staffed with expert mixologists taking pride in their creations. You’ll love making your way through the menu!
Ikos resorts are all about food and drink and whilst there is a buffet restaurant, there’s also 4 a la carte options covering Asian, Italian, Greek and French cuisine each with menus crafted by Michelin star chefs. Oh, the food! Each meal will be one of the best you’ve had, never mind at an all inclusive. Vanilla cream stuffed croissants for breakfast, perfect beef sirloin for dinner? Take me back!
Complementing the incredible food, are the amazingly attentive staff, anticipating your every need. Present without being overbearing, there’s always someone on hand to take a drinks order, bring you a snack or recommend which of the 300 wines will go perfect with your meal. They’ll go out of their way to make your stay perfect and are quick to apologise on the rare occasion their impeccably high standards slip.
We booked an entry level room for our stay and were more than happy with it, even if it did overlook the car park! But Ikos caters to many budgets and if you fancy a splurge, you can take your pick from bungalows in the grounds or on the beachfront to a suite with private pool in the exclusive, VIP deluxe area.
From £200 per room per night, all inclusive based on 2 sharing via booking.com.
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